Gov't soldiers retake control of Sunni town

BAGHDAD - Iraqi soldiers backed by tanks retook control of a Sunni town north of Baghdad on Friday after gunmen withdrew without a fight, although violence erupted at three Sunni mosques and clerics called for the formation of a tribal army to protect Sunni cities.

The Sunni gunmen had seized Suleiman Beg on Thursday after a firefight with security forces, one in a string of incidents that have killed more than 170 people in a spate of violence and clashes in Sunni Muslim towns in western and northern Iraq during the past four days.

The growing turmoil prompted the top United Nations official in Iraq on Friday to warn that the country is "at a crossroads."


US vows to boost trade, military ties

YANGON - Myanmar could get broad duty-free access to the U.S. market by year's end as the United States tries to deepen trade and military ties with the former military dictatorship.

Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said Friday that the U.S. could waive import duties on thousands of goods from Myanmar, including agricultural products, handicrafts and some garments under a program designed to help poor countries.


Sect members accused of burning a baby

SANTIAGO - Chilean police are searching for three people accused of burning a baby alive in a doomsday ritual.

Police began searching for the suspects on Friday in the southern region of Araucania. Officials say the 3-day-old baby was thrown onto a bonfire in November because the leader of the sect believed that the child was the antichrist. Police arrested four other members of the sect Thursday, including the baby's mothe.


38 are killed in fire at mental hospital

MOSCOW - A fire raged through a psychiatric hospital outside Moscow early Friday, killing 38 people, including two nurses, emergency officials said.

A third nurse managed to save one patient, and another patient got out on his own. They were the only three thought to have survived, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported. Police said the fire was caused by a short circuit, RIA Novosti reported.


American jihadi tweets on kill attempt

NAIROBI - A most-wanted American jihadi in Somalia said Friday that the leader of Islamic extremist rebels in Somali was starting a civil war, just hours after an assassination attempt left the Alabama native with a neck wound.

Omar Hammami posted about what he labeled an assassination attempt late Thursday as he was sitting in a tea shop. He posted four pictures, one of which shows blood on his neck and a bloodstained T-shirt.

Hammami, one of the two most notorious Americans in overseas jihadi groups, moved from Alabama to Somalia and joined al-Shabab in about 2006. But he had a falling out with al-Shabab and has engaged in a public fight with the group over the last year amid signs of increasing tension between Somalis and foreign fighters in the group.

Wire reports